The Singapore Indoor Stadium again played host to the stars of ONE Championship at "ONE 163: Akimoto vs. Petchtanong" this past Saturday.
The action started hot on the lead card and never cooled, as five of the six main card contests ended by TKO.
Fans in “The Lion City” were treated to impressive performances all evening long, which culminated with Petchtanong Petchfergus dethroning Hiroki Akimoto to claim the ONE bantamweight kickboxing world title.
Here, let’s journey back to ONE 163 and recap five of the biggest highlights from another spectacular roller-coaster ride on the global stage.
1. Kryklia wins grand prix with amazing comeback
The ONE heavyweight kickboxing world grand prix championship final was lifted straight out of a Hollywood script.
The matchup featured a trilogy bout between massive strikers who were each the last man to beat the other. And at ONE 163, reigning ONE light heavyweight kickboxing world champion Roman Kryklia took the series – and the tournament's silver belt.
The win did not come without its drama. Iranian slugger Iraj Azizpour nearly finished Kryklia at the end of the first round after a staggering knockdown of the 6-foot-7 kickboxing monster.
However, that did not seem to faze Kryklia, who came out aggressive in the second frame. His relentless combinations broke down his foe, and when his opponent started to fade, the Ukrainian turned up the heat.
As Azizpour had his back along the ONE circle wall, Kryklia entered the clinch and rocked him with a knee to the face, which was followed quickly by a left hook-right hook combination that put him on the canvas.
Although the Iranian made the eight-count, Kryklia quickly put together another flurry that finished the match via TKO at 1:28 of the second round.
The sweet taste of victory was sprinkled with the sugar of revenge. Kryklia defeated his old rival, earned an extra $50,000 performance bonus, and paired the silver belt with his heavyweight kickboxing gold.
2. Izagakhmaev continues world title charge with destruction of Aoki
Saygid Izagakhmaev has been adamant about challenging for Christian Lee's lightweight MMA belt since arriving in ONE Championship. On Saturday, he might have punched his ticket to a world title shot with a blistering first-round finish of former divisional king Shinya Aoki.
Although the Japanese MMA legend peppered Izagakhmaev with kicks from the opening bell, the Russian marched forward and stayed right in his face. By keeping Aoki on his back foot, he positioned him along the ONE circle wall with nowhere to go.
As Aoki stood in front of him, Izagakhmaev launched a missile overhand right that crushed “Tobikan Judan.” Massive ground-and-pound followed until the action was stopped.
Khabib Nurmagomedov's protege moved his professional record to 22-2 with the 86-second TKO. And while he also earned a $50,000 performance bonus, Izagakhmaev’s biggest prize may end up being a shot at the gold.
3. Aung La N Sang returns in style
The crowd was raucous for Aung La N Sang from the moment he walked to the ONE circle, and the former two-division ONE world hampion left fans with smiles by delivering an emphatic first-round TKO victory against Yushin Okami.
"The Burmese Python" showed off his improved grappling by successfully defending an early takedown and assuming top control, but he was quick to stand and get back to what he does best – throwing heavy strikes.
As Okami felt the heat come off the tips of N Sang's gloves, he dove for another takedown attempt. This time, he was met by the right knee of the Myanmar superstar.
Knowing the Japanese legend was hurt, N Sang unleashed tireless ground-and-pound until referee Herb Dean was forced to call off the bout.
The pivotal win put the longtime ONE Championship superstar back in the win column and gave him an unforgettable memory of defeating one of his early MMA inspirations.
4. Woo stuns Wakamatsu to make case for spot in flyweight rankings
Wakamatsu was content to sling heavy leather early, but he soon discovered that staying on the feet with "Dynamic" was simply playing with fire. As "Little Piranha" stepped forward to exchange, Woo landed a crisp straight right that gave him the confidence to push the pace.
From that moment on, the South Korean marched forward, firing off punch after punch. Finally, a looping left hand knocked Wakamatsu off-balance and to the canvas briefly. "Dynamic" then put together a flurry that forced the Japanese warrior to shoot for a takedown.
However, Woo not only defended the attempt – he took Wakamatu's back, and as the former ONE flyweight world title challenger attempted to buck him off, "Dynamic's" top control allowed him to secure the mount.
That ability to keep the position against a top-ranked contender was exactly what Woo needed to secure the finish. After some heavy ground-and-pound, referee Olivier Coste halted the action and gave the South Korean a signature win in a jam-packed division.
5. Bianca Basilio impresses in dominant ONE debut
Brazilian jiu-jitsu legend Bianca Basilio made a splash in her ONE debut with a 42-second rear-naked choke of Milena Sakumoto in their strawweight submission grappling match. The quick submission introduced the ADCC World Champion to ONE's global audience in a major way.
Sakumoto dove for her opponent's legs at the outset of the first round, and it proved to be a costly mistake. The Brazilian expertly defended the attempt and promptly moved to her opponent’s back during the first scramble.
Once Basilio had the position, the submission soon followed. With her dominant win, the 26-year-old earned a $50,000 performance bonus and immediately announced herself as a leading name in the women's strawweight submission grappling division.
Moreover, the Almeida Jiu-Jitsu representative is zeroing in on a significant milestone. Basilio now owns 96 professional victories, and with a few more impressive performances, number 100 might just come in the ONE Championship circle.
This story first published at ONEFC.com.